Sunday, January 30, 2011

Worlds Colliding: American Born Chinese

Gene Luen Yang's book American Born Chinesewas so far below my radar that I wasn't aware that it was a graphic novel.  I knew it had won an award, but somehow missed that the award was the 2007 Printz, the biggie librarian award for YA literature, for books too old for the Newbery(*).  Go figure.

Anyway, I had it on my TBR list (probably from that award) and finally brought it home, and wow, I see why it ranks so high.  At first I wasn't sure what the three strands had to do with each other, although I was suspicious of the Danny/Jin Wang connection, but the surprise ending packed a wallop.  Strand one tells the story of the Monkey King, strand two the life of an Asian Jin Wang in elementary school, and strand three the life of all-American Danny and his characature Chinese cousin Chin-Kee.  It was uncomfortable reading and seeing the Chin-Kee sections, and I was a little hesitant to give the book to my twelve year old since he might not recognize how offensive some of the jokes were.

It works both as a good story and as an eye-opener to another perspective; I don't remember prejudice against Asians as a kid, and I don't notice it in our schools, but that probably means I'm missing stuff, not that it isn't there.  A

Commentary from X:
Confusing, but good.

Then he stole the book to re-read in the bath.

* There are two types of people who find my blog.  Book-people, who obviously know what the Printz is, and my mom.  Actually, I'm not sure my mom reads this blog, but I think my siblings do.


Susan said...

I read your blog, and I am a sibling

Beth said...

Had you heard of the Printz?